Vulnerable States' pursuit of solidarity as a necessity for democratic equality in the European Union
Strasbourg University and Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
In spite of the illusion created by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the EU has aligned itself with the transmuted international capitalism and its break from the fundamental democratic principle of equality between States and their citizens in some fields. According to recent official statistics, the want of political solidarity has led four EU countries (Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria), to assert that their participation in the EU is not advantageous to them.
To overcome the unmaking of Europe, it is indispensable and of vital importance, from the sociological point of view, to create political solidarity, joined with and supported by social forces (i.e. working and unemployed people as well as people hit by the austerity measures) not only of Mediterranean countries but - as it has already been suggested in the past - also of Balkan countries (and, perhaps, Ukraine in the future). They are all victims of inequality, inequity and one-sided arbitrary decisions, even if these are often formally presented as bilateral or multilateral, but in real terms they have become marginal.
Under present conditions, the objective of such large, energetic and engaging action would be, on the one hand, to enlighten these countries as to their gradually increasing indebtedness, social degradation and lack of fundamental principles, and, on the other hand, to prompt them to pursue real equality. If such initiative and activity does not succeed in altering today’s reality, the disintegration of the EU seems to be inevitable.
The impact of applying alternative definitions to the European Union Labour Force Survey measurement of the unemployment rate for Southern Europe 2008-2014
Panteion University of Political and Social Sciences, Greece
Background: The unemployment rate is an important indicator with both social and economic dimensions considered to signify a country’s social and economic wellbeing. For its measurement the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) is using a synthesized economic construct according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventional definitions of the employed, unemployed and inactive. However, in the literature, the need for using more than one measure especially in recessionary times is emphasized.
Purpose: To investigate by applying two broader alternative definitions the social profile of unemployment as it compares to the conventional definition.
Method: The analysis is based on the 2008-2014 datasets of the EU-LFS for Southern Europe: Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Two alternative definitions of the employment status are formulated as variations of the ILO conventional definitions. The social profile resulting from the alternative definitions of unemployment is then compared to that of the conventional definition.
Results: Applying these two broader alternative definitions to the Southern European LFS data, the findings show an increase of the official unemployment rate. Also, they reveal threatening unemployment rates for women, the young and those with no formal education.
Conclusions: Although, the changes in the definitions presented do not exhaust all possibilities, the results indicate the need, especially in recessionary times, for implementing alternative measures of unemployment to the EU-LFS in the tradition of the Current Population Survey.
Youth and employment in Southern Italy: Challenges emerging from a comparison between the Italian Jobs Act and the French labour reform
University eCampus, Italy
The datum relative to youth unemployment, which in Southern Italy over 2015 registered a value amongst the highest of those of the European Union countries outlines the economic heterogeneity of the European Union and spurs one to reflect on the different territorial efficacy of European and national policies.
The 2020 European strategy emphasises the building of the competitiveness of individuals and grounds innovation in regional and national labour markets on highly qualified educational and professional systems. But is it possible to render individuals competitive without considering the competitivity of territories? And is it still possible to analyse labour separately with respect to production?
The article, placing itself in a research perspective typical of the sociology of public action, suggests a comparison between the Jobs Act and the recent French labour reform.
The comparative analysis anchors the policies to their social justifications and to the political and economic traditions which generate them. In particular, the objective of territorial cohesion as an opportunity and at the same time a limit for the development of different regions internal to the various states appears on the one hand to be relevant as do on the other, the opportunities of enhancing the political dimension of flexicurity, of rethinking the relationships between workers and firms and of redefining the function of trade unions in the process of labour market innovation.
Intellectual Property and the Development Divide
Jagiellonian University, Poland
Intellectual Property (IP) always plays a significant role in society, but the development of information society, the globalization of markets as well as the growing complexity of products and services has further increased the importance of IP rights. Until recently, the evidence available for economic contribution of IP rights has been fragmentary, focusing on individual rights and specific industries, and very often concentrates only on patents. However, currently there are some preliminary studies considered the impact of all types of IP on innovation, growth and development (encompasses not only economic, but also cultural, social, and political dimensions of national wellbeing) in European and non-European countries.
At the same time within the context of "IP globalization” some new insights into the concept of IP and it’s one-sided emphasis on utility-maximization are being provided from representatives of other social sciences. They, inter alia, indicate that there are growing and dangerous asymmetries in IP norm-settings and interpretations occurring in multilateral activities across the world. As a result the concept of IP encounters the concept of distributive justice.
Taking those relatively new perspectives as a starting point I will show, that European framework of IP poses political choices with far different inputs for decision-making than on the domestic level. What is more, I plan to indicate on the basis of proper data (inter alia those provided by EU entities), that policy choices related to IP which are made on the supranational level are very often disproportionate and affects countries with smaller markets, less international negotiating power, and poorer and less empowered consumers.